Many Ukrainians Can’t Find Their Loved Ones

I’m Facebook friends with a ton of people in Ukraine, and for the first week or two of the invasion they were various types of posts. At first, my friends and former colleagues were discussing the shock of waking up to their country at war. Later on they began sharing videos of bombs and missiles raining down across almost ever region of the country. Soon some began calling for NATO to enact a no-fly zone over Ukraine, while others posted information about temporary shelters in their respective towns. I also got to enjoy lots of anti-war photos and artwork, catch phrases like, “Russian warship go f**k yourself,” and of course some funny memes about the incompetence of the Russian army.

Recently, there has been a new trend, one that I wish I never had to witness. As I’ve scrolled through Facebook over the past few days, I’ve come across a lot of posts like this one:

Yes, it’s as tragic as it seems: Ukrainians are publishing photos of their loved ones on Facebook, and are asking if anyone has seen them or knows what happened to them.

Over the past two weeks Russian troops have been targeting civilian infrastructure, and in the process have killed hundreds (probably thousands) of civilians. A maternity ward was bombed, housing complexes are being fired at indiscriminately, and there are stories of Russian soldiers shooting civilians in their homes and on their front lawns. These war crimes have especially ramped up in the past week and a half, after Russia’s ground troops were initially stunted by a fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Each time I’ve scrolled through Facebook over the past few days, I’ve seen missing person posts like this one. Many hard-hit cities have almost no access to internet or cell phone service, and as a result many Ukrainians currently have no way of knowing the status of their friends and family.

Maybe their loved ones can’t respond because the cell phone towers have been destroyed, or maybe they were killed by a Russian airstrike. Maybe they’re running out of food and water in a bomb shelter, or maybe they’ve been trying to escape a besieged city yet are unable to because Russian troops continue firing upon humanitarian corridors. There’s no way to know what exactly is happening or what has already happened to a friend or relative, and there probably won’t be any way to know for a very long time.

We’ve already seen mass graves in Mariupol and Bucha, and in Chernihiv the cemetery is out of space. In the most devastating scenario, Facebook posts like these are a harsh reminder that many of the victims of this terrible war are never going to have a proper burial, and many families aren’t going to get any sort of confirmation that their loved one has died. In some cases, the most closure a family might get is that their relative doesn’t respond for the indefinite future.

It’s another atrocity of war – one that I wish I could have gone my entire life without reading or thinking about, but one that can’t be ignored. Please keep Ukrainians in your hearts, and continue donating to humanitarian causes. This war is more brutal and cruel than you can imagine.

Donate to Project Hope:

Donate to Razom for Ukraine:

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